Even in the current times, where
budgets are under increased scrutiny due to the economic situation, the storage
industry is not standing still. New technologies are constantly developed, and
companies need to decide which technologies will be of benefit to them in the
What's hot today?
In the current economic climate, storage managers are particularly
interested in expanding storage capacity as data continues to grow unabated,
enhancing disaster recovery plans, and improving storage performance to service
the business users better, according to IDC's 2009 Annual European storage
survey ('Understanding user needs in a changing economic climate').
However, these initiatives typically increase the operational
cost of the storage infrastructure. Adding storage capacity to cope with data
growth is a very short-term strategy, which will lead to complexity and
management nightmares, and ultimately, higher operational cost. Achieving a
viable disaster recovery plan can also turn into a costly undertaking, if not
well thought through. Finally, improving storage performance is often achieved
through methods that result in low utilization rates. This, in turn, drives the
storage capacity expansion and operational costs higher.
With the above in mind, it should not be surprising that the
current hot storage technologies enable users to achieve what they aim for, but
at the same time enable them to reduce operational cost and increase storage
efficiency. The timing couldn't be better, since it has become clear that
storage is reaching a new phase of maturity. This new phase is one where storage
resources need to be used as efficiently as possible, and where old strategies
of just increasing capacity without addressing operational cost or
underutilization of storage are no longer viable. This is even true for those
that have put such efficiencies aside to achieve increased performance. There
are a multitude of technologies out there, which help to tame data growth and
support, solving the storage efficiency challenge. Data de-duplication, for
example, has been the hot topic of the summer, as it helps to buck with the data
growth trend. But this is hardly the only new and exciting storage technology
addressing the industries new problems. Other technologies like thin
provisioning and storage virtualization provide greater storage utilization and
cost-efficient DR (respectively) are also in high demand. Storage management
software is seeing increased interest because it enables users to manage across
storage silos, whereas archiving is seen as a means to reduce primary data by
off-loading to an archive.
Tomorrow's storage strategies
Cloud storage is shaping up as the future architecture for storage
deployment, and storage-as-a-service is the first step in this direction. Cloud
storage is essentially a way of planning and designing storage infrastructure by
using standard building blocks, in which management is automated to a large
degree and efficiency is paramount.
File-based technologies like file virtualization will see
increased demand as well, as most of the data growth comes from the unstructured
side. The before mentioned survey has shown for several years in a row, that
e-mail and file-related applications are driving data and storage growth.
SSD is a technology much talked about, but still with very
limited adoption, as it is currently more than 10-times more expensive than
traditional disk storage. As storage administrators are evaluating this
technology, they need to keep in mind that it is just a point solution, which
actually emphasizes the need for intelligent storage tiering.
With another storage tier available (tier-0) at a high cost,
storage administrators will not be able to resort to the good old 'keep
everything on primary storage' approach. By having a robust software layer in
place to manage storage tiering, ILM can finally be implemented and its benefits
(lower cost and better data management) can be achieved.
Be prepared for the future
In order to architect a future-proof storage environment, good old
management principles still apply. Consolidate and standardize your storage
infrastructure, deploy storage virtualization software for cost effective DR and
invest in a solid storage management layer to simplify and automate management.
Thus, you can take advantage of new innovative technologies, which most likely
will be point solutions to start with, and maintain a solid management layer.
European Infrastructure SoftwarE, IDC Group